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  • Writer's pictureKate Millett

“Thank you, the music really does help…”

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Musicians: Ben Hazleton (double bass) and Kate Millett (voice & ukulele)

Music can be a wonderful conversation starter. While we waited for our Rapid Covid test results we practiced a few songs and chatted to Danail, a member of BSL staff who we know quite well. He told us about the national music competitions he took part in as a teenager in Bulgaria, frequently winning the singers’ prize! He still loves to sing, and said he often reflects on his decision to pursue a career in Medicine rather than Music. This conversation led on to resident E.J telling us about her Mother’s powerful Alto singing voice, and how she grew up in a musical household. We knew she sang in choirs but had never heard how big a part music played in her upbringing. This social side of our music sessions is important for the emotional support we aim to give.

Ben and Kate played a broad mixture of music, from 80s classics for J, to 17th century English folk songs for E.J, and Spanish flamenco lullabies for A.S. We know nearly everyone’s personal musical tastes now, and it makes such a difference. The nostalgia for an old favourite tune or the connection to a melody are vital for engaging with your audience and having a powerful shared experience. While playing the Spanish lullaby ‘Nana’ for J.S, we felt a real connection to her. Her face relaxed and she locked eyes with the musicians throughout the song, smiling gently. We were told that her mother spoke Spanish, so maybe the music and lyrics reminded her of family.

Our music sessions are tailored to people’s needs. We don’t believe in forcing a jolly atmosphere, but in allowing the music to meet emotional needs. D.J was extremely distressed on Saturday. He was confused, felt unwell and was visibly unhappy. He always gets involved in our sessions but today was different. After telling Ben he wanted some music, he sat on the sofa and cried. These were deep sobs, head in hands, but every so often he looked up at Ben and thanked him. D.J was inconsolable, but graceful with his appreciation. He needed the release.

“Thank you, the music helps. It really does help…”

- D.J, BSL resident

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